Scientists have a marketing issue in Australia: But a few hours exposure to morning talk-back radio reveals a simple solution.
Let’s face it this is Australia: And in Australia if you want to be taken seriously by the population at large, you need to have an “ies” or “y” at the end of your profession. Firemen are “firies”, postmen are “posties”, electricians (lest you think the problem was with the “men” suffix) are “sparkies”. No matter how much you hate it, you can’t escape it. There are brickies, roofies, catch-all “tradies”, and of course “Aussies”.
So what scientists need to do is embrace the wave. ‘Physisties’, and ‘chemisties’, and ‘bioligisties’ could be the marketing bonanza that science has been waiting for. The fact that this doesn’t change a thing that you do should not concern you. Just grit your teeth and ignore the assault on the English language too. Focus on the main game. Do this and you become one of them. Accepted. Part of the group. Nothing is too bad once you start down this road. Even “astronomies” can work; if you ignore the fact that it sounds like a candy-coated chocolate.
Speaking of which, scientists could then use “smarties” as a collective noun. Imagine the breakfast TV host discussing global warming and announcing that “We’ll just have to see what the smarties say about that.” There’s credibility, right there.
Really, scientists, you need to embrace the marketing vibe. Forget trying to educate people about what science really means. Forget trying to persuade with rational argument and logic and the scientific method. Go straight for the jugular, lose that last hard consonant, and re-brand yourselves the Australian way.
You are no longer a scientist. You are a “sciency” and proud of it. On talk-back radio your opinion on global warming is suddenly on a par with the brickies and posties of this world. You are accepted and embraced. Your opinions matter not because of your learning, thought or endevour; but because you’re one of us. A group with a vowel-sound at the end of your professional descriptor.
I’m astonished no one has worked this out before. All you need is that trailing “y” to gain acceptance and a certain cool. Well, to be honest, the cool thing works better for firies than anyone else – just do an image search on Google to see the difference. But they all get cred for being salt-of-the-earth types whose professional names are rejected by spell-checkers everywhere. Put a “y” on the end and you’re suddenly a friendly bloke with the sort of common-sense, it’s-bleeding-obvious opinions that lead to The Daily Telegraph (The Telly) seeking you out for comment on current events.
So, scientists, stop banging on about education and communication. Start thinking about how you can add a “y” to your job description and gain some local credibility. You might think it’ll make you wishy-washy; but just take a look at the images of tradies on the net to see it’s all about ripped abs and sweaty muscles. And women have a role too; yup, don’t worry about that, they get to hold power tools in suggestive poses – and, let me tell you, a test tube is just as easy to hold suggestively as a drill.
You might, though, also have to get yourself a ute with a sticker pointing out that “real Aussies drive utes”, but that would give you the space to add in some more stickers: “Phycisties do it with hadrons”, “Chemisties do it periodically”, “Marine biologisties do it underwater” – really, it’s great stuff and your fellow motorists will just love you for it.
So there you have it. A whole new marketing and communications approach. C’mon you sciencies. You know you have it in you. Just give it a try and, next thing you know, you’ll be being properly funded by our pollies.